Religious Freedom Index results: Americans increase support for religious freedom with highest Index score yet

WASHINGTON – Becket has just released the third annual Religious Freedom Index, the only annual poll that tracks trends across the full spectrum of opinions on American religious freedom. This year’s Index reached a new high as Americans bounced back from a uniquely divisive year with revitalized support for religious liberty. In addition to the Index’s standardized annual questions, this year Becket also asked about Americans’ opinions on faith-based organizations, free speech, and the pandemic.

Across the board, backing for religious freedom increased in this year’s Index, pushing it to a new high of 68 on a scale of 0 to 100. Driving this new high score was a broad shift toward stronger support of religious freedom. More respondents than ever signalized their strong support for religious freedom across numerous questions.

“As Americans bounce back from a divisive year, we see an increased commitment to a wide range of religious freedom principles,” said Luke Goodrich, senior counsel at Becket and co-editor of the Index. “This across-the-board support shows a renewed confidence that protecting religious exercise and expression benefits American culture and civic life.”

Asked about the role of faith-based organizations, more respondents than ever before said they think that religious organizations in the community should be just as eligible to receive government funding as non-religious organizations, with a six-point increase to 71 percent. Turning to free speech, a majority of respondents, 62 percent, believe that people of faith should be free to voice their religiously based opinion in public, even on controversial topics. That view extended to the schoolroom, where 63 percent of respondents said that parents are the primary educators of their children and should have the final say in what their children are taught, supporting the freedom to opt children out of public school content parents find morally objectionable.

Regarding the pandemic and religious liberty, a majority of respondents said that funerals and religious services should be considered essential activities, protected from government closures throughout the pandemic. Respondents were also more likely to support religious exemptions from vaccine mandates in the workplace than they were to oppose them, with respondents who had religious coworkers indicating even greater support for religious exemptions.

“After a period where we all have experienced restrictions on daily life at some level, Americans seem more averse to placing restrictions on their neighbors, coworkers and friends for their religious beliefs,” said Katie Geary, content manager at Becket and co-editor of the Index. “As Americans work together to bridge partisan divides, this naturally extends to greater support for religious freedom.”

The Religious Freedom Index is designed to give a holistic view of changes in American attitudes on religious freedom by surveying a nationally representative sample of 1,000 American adults each fall. The Index’s focus on core religious liberty principles, contextualized with questions on some of the year’s most pressing societal issues, provides a yearly cross section of public sentiment on the intersection of law, religion, and culture. The responses to these questions statistically group into six dimensions:  1) Religious Pluralism, 2) Religion and Policy, 3) Religious Sharing, 4) Religion in Society, 5) Church and State, and 6) Religion in Action.

Surveying and scale construction for Becket’s Religious Freedom Index: American Perspectives on the First Amendment are conducted by Heart+Mind Strategies, using an online panel assembled by Dynata. Becket contributes its broad expertise representing people of all faiths in religious liberty cases to ensure that the polling instrument and analysis broadly reflect America’s many diverse religions and the full spectrum of religious liberty issues.

For more information or to arrange an interview with a Becket attorney, contact Ryan Colby at media@becketlaw.org or 202-349-7219. Interviews can be arranged in English, Chinese, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.

Becket releases third annual Religious Freedom Index

WASHINGTON – On November 17, Becket will release the third edition of its annual Religious Freedom Index, a comprehensive study that tracks trends in American perspectives on religious freedom. Each year, the Index explores American attitudes across a wide range of religious liberty issues. This year, Becket also asked additional, timely, questions to gain insight into how Americans view faith-based organizations partnering with government, the place of religious voices in free speech, and the importance of religion and religious community during the pandemic. Join us on November 17, 2021, for a presentation and panel discussion examining the findings of the third annual Religious Freedom Index: American Perspectives on the First Amendment 

When:
Wednesday, November 17, 2021
1:00 p.m. EST 

Where:
Zoom: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/84689674024 
or call in: 1-312-626-6799
Meeting ID: 846 8967 4024  

Presenters: 
Dee Allsop, Ph.D. – CEO and a managing partner at Heart & Mind Strategies
Caleb Lyman – director of research and analytics at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty 

Panelists:
Kelsey Dallas – deputy editor and reporter at Deseret News
Jonathan Silver – editor of The Mosaic and senior director of the Tikvah Fund
Montse Alvarado  executive director at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty
Michael Wear – founder, Public Square Strategies  

Moderator:
Katie Geary  creative content manager at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty 

Media Contact:
Ryan Colby – associate communications director
media@becketlaw.org
(202) 349-7219 

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Ryan Colby atmedia@becketlaw.orgor 202-349-7219.Interviews can be arranged in English, Chinese, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. 

Religious Freedom Index results: Americans still believe religion is a force for freedom

WASHINGTON  Becket has just released the second annual Religious Freedom Indexthe only annual poll that tracks trends across a full spectrum of opinions on American religious freedom. This year’s Index found that, despite the immense challenges of 2020, Americans are steadfast in their belief in the importance of religious freedom. In addition to the Index questions, this year’s poll asked about Americans opinions on the intersection of religious liberty and COVID-19, electionsand racial justice  

The Index reveals that Americans view religion and religious freedom as an anchor of civil societyespecially amidst the turbulence of 2020. More than three quarters of respondents said that religion is a stabilizing force in society during times of social unrest, and more than 60 percent said that faith and religion had been personally important during the COVID-19 pandemic. A majority of respondents said the government should treat worship services at least equally alongside businesses when reopening economies.  

Americans view faith as an essentialstabilizing force in the midst of a pandemic, and they want their elected officials to do a better job of protecting religious freedom,” said Luke Goodrich, senior counsel at Becket and co-editor of the Index. “We will all be better off if our leaders and government officials respect the foundational value of religious freedom. 

A majority of Americans agree that religion – and people of faith – are part of the solution to society’s problems, including a seven-percentage point increase from last year among those who said people of faith are definitely part of the solution. Respondents embraced a robust view of religious expression, with a majority considering it an important part of an individual’s identity and endorsing vibrant religious expression in public places. However, the Index signals that Americans thought elected officials could do more to defend religious freedomand that religious leaders could play a more active role in advancing the cause of racial justice.   

When Americans understand religion as a fundamental part of an individual’s identity, it is no surprise that that they support strong religious freedom protections in work and public life,” said Caleb Lyman, director of research and analytics at Becket and co-editor of the Index. “Respondents recognized that religion and people of faith can make unique contributions to the challenges faced this year.” 

The Religious Freedom Index is designed to give a high-level view of changes in American attitudes on religious freedom by surveying a nationally representative sample of 1,000 American adults each OctoberThe Index’s focus on core religious liberty principles, contextualized with questions on some of the year’s most pressing societal issues, provides a yearly cross section of public sentiment on the intersection of law, religion, and culture. The responses to these questions statistically group into six dimensions:  1) Religious Pluralism, 2) Religion and Policy, 3) Religious Sharing, 4) Religion in Society, 5) Church and State, and 6) Religion in Action.  

Surveying and scale construction for Becket’s Religious Freedom Index: American Perspectives on the First Amendment are conducted by Heart+Mind Strategies, using an online panel assembled by DynataBecket contributes its broad expertise representing people of all faiths in religious liberty cases to ensure that the polling instrument and analysis broadly reflect America’s many diverse religions and the full spectrum of religious liberty issues. 

For more information or to arrange an interview with a Becket attorney, contact Ryan Colby atmedia@becketlaw.orgor 202-349-7219.Interviews can be arranged in English, Chinese, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. 

Becket releases second annual Religious Freedom Index

WASHINGTON  On November 17, Becket will release the second edition of its annual Religious Freedom Index, a comprehensive study that tracks trends in American perspectives on religious freedom.  Each year, the Index questions and results cover American attitudes across six dimensions of religious liberty opinion. In addition to the second year’s Index resultsanalysis of additional questions included in the Index poll provide insights into the relevance of religion in a society grappling with a pandemic, social unrest, and an election year. Join us on November 17, 2020, for a presentation and panel discussion to examine the findings of the second annual Religious Freedom Index: American Perspectives on the First Amendment 

When:
Tuesday, November 17, 2020
1:00 p.m. EST 

Where:
Zoom: https://zoom.us/j/95403897306
Register Here 

Presenters
Dee Allsop, Ph.D. CEO and a managing partner at Heart & Mind Strategies
Caleb Lyman – director of research and analytics at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty  

Panelists
Jackie Rivers, Ph.D.  director of the Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies
Amrith Kaur, J.D.  legal director at the Sikh Coalition
Jonathan Silver, Ph.D. – editor of Mosaic

Moderator:
Montse Alvarado  executive director at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty 

Media Contact:
Ryan Colby – associate communications director
media@becketlaw.org
(202) 349-7219 

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Ryan Colby atmedia@becketlaw.orgor 202-349-7219.Interviews can be arranged in English, Chinese, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. 

New survey finds widespread support for letting Church, not State, control internal religious direction

WASHINGTON– In a new survey of a nationally representative sample of American adults, respondents showed an intuitive understanding of and support for the First Amendment principles that protect a religious organization’s ability to determine its own religious mission and beliefs, including by selecting those who pass its faith to the next generation. The survey especially focused on this ability to pass on the faith to the next generation free from government interference, a protection often referred to as the “ministerial exception.” Respondents were tested on their understanding of these constitutional protections, and surveyed on how they think they should be applied.

The survey, fielded in late April, found that more than two-thirds of respondents agreed that keeping the government out of a religious organization’s internal religious disputes is an important facet of a healthy separation of church and state. A majority of respondents also said that the religious organization should have the final say when a dispute arises over who can or cannot teach its beliefs to the next generation. In fact, more respondents chose this option than all other options combined.

“When it comes to important decisions about who can pass on a religious organization’s faith on to the next generation, Americans agree that the buck stops well before Uncle Sam,” said Montse Alvarado, executive director of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. “Leaving important decisions about a religion’s future in that religion’s hands is a commonsense application of the First Amendment.”

Although the term “ministerial exception” may not be as familiar as other First Amendment freedoms, on a section of the survey that tested respondents’ knowledge of the status of this constitutional protection, Americans typically answered at least three out of four questions correctly.  Older generations performed slightly better than younger generations. Education level was not a predictor of accuracy in these questions, nor was political party or the self-reported importance of religion.

This survey and others to follow serve as a companion to Becket’s annual Religious Freedom Index. Where the Index provides a macro view of religious freedom sentiment, this survey provides a more detailed view of principles covered in the Index that are central to current religious freedom cases.

The study surveyed a representative sample of n=1,004 American adults from April 20-22. Weighting was used to ensure a representative population with regard to age, gender, race, geographic region, and education. The survey was conducted online and has an estimated margin of error of +/-3.1 percent at 95 percent confidence.

For more information or to arrange an interview with a Becket attorney, contact Ryan Colby at media@becketlaw.org or 202-349-7219. Interviews can be arranged in English, Chinese, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.